South Elgin, IL — On Thursday evening, October 30th, Grady and Lora Hauser hosted a dinner party for Alliance Defending Freedom in their S. Elgin home. Following dinner Matthew Rawlings, MidEast Leadership Development Director, and Matthew Bowman, Senior Legal Counsel, presented updates on progress Alliance Defending Freedom has made during the last year of defending liberties and rights for unborn children, Christian businesses, and the family. Rawlings reported that 80% of cases are won by Alliance Defending Freedom. Bowman presented on the injunction he placed on behalf of Tyndale House Publishing. A film clip, Houston subpoenas pastors to turn over sermons, from the Hannity show played. In the clip, host, Sean Hannity, offers to bail out Houston Pastor Steve Riggle of Grace Church, if necessary. One of Alliance Defending Freedom’s senior counsel’s, Erik Stanley represented Pastor Steve Riggle and interviewed with Hannity as well. Following the presentation Mark Taylor, President of Tyndale House Publishing, read a moving essay entitled, “What’s a Christian Business Owner Supposed to Do?”, which may be read in its entirety at World Magazine here. Learn more about the ministry of Alliance Defending Freedom here.
Social Media, Pessimist in Progressive Age, Economic Inequality, Haunting Theology.
This is a lesson I return to time and again, particularly in a new day where conversation happens in a form I never imagined. Social media has changed everything—it is a two-sided coin, capable of beauty and horror.
Deal of the Day
Three Free Books from Ligonier – John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology; The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther; The Expository Genius of John Calvin.
Ed. Christopher Morgan & Kendell Easley. The Community of Jesus. Reviewed by Andy Nasselli. (9M)
The conservative evangelical world has confronted stories over the past two weeks of defectors and would-be defectors to the traditional view of marriage. Hillsong, the mega-mega church from Australia who are re-colonizing the West with their church plants, found themselves under the spotlight precisely by trying to avoid it. Conservatives denounced them, led by one-time Mere-O writer Andrew Walker, and they promptly came out and said that Saint Paul was right, guys, and everything is A-OK. Then Jonathan Merritt wrote a story on David Gushee’s change of heart that was sent around with trumpets and fanfare.
I was mildly critical of both Andrew and Jonathan’s pieces for related but slightly different reasons.
The topic of economic inequality continues to be at the forefront of our current political discussions, thanks in no small part by a president who calls it “the defining challenge of our time.”
‘Tis the season for monsters, mad scientists, and dark and stormy nights. The history of horror and its association with All Hallows’ Eve is a fascinating topic in itself, but one of the most pertinent branches to this spooky old tree is the strand of fiction we now call the Gothic. More than just a moniker for black-garbed teenagers, the Gothic is an enduring strand woven throughout literature, art, and film over the past two and a half centuries. And despite a reputation (not wholly unearned) for being too bleak for innocent evangelical eyes, the Gothic often brings out some valuable points that remain relevant to Christians, whether we like to face them or not.
1 Timothy 4:13 “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”
“Public worship will not excuse us from secret worship.” Matthew Henry
I had the pleasure of contributing to CBMW’s series on Manhood and Theology. I wrote on exegesis, talking about how every man needs to read the Book, his church, his family, and his world.
Here’s an excerpt:
Men are leaders. As leaders they need to be exceptional exegetes, because exegesis is at the heart of leadership. According to the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, exegesis means both “to lead” or “to explain” (203). The dictionary clearly points out: “In biblical literature it is always used in the sense ‘to explain, interpret, or describe’” (203). But let’s not forget this term’s full field of meaning.
Solid leaders are extraordinary readers. Albert Mohler writes in The Conviction to Lead, “When you find a leader, you have found a reader” (Kindle location 1188). Would you describe yourself as an extraordinary reader? I’m not just talking about an extraordinary reader of the Wall Street Journal or biographies, like George Washington and Winston Churchill. I’m talking about an extraordinary reader of the Book and your context.
You see, exegesis starts with the Book, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, but it doesn’t stop there. Extraordinary exegetes read the Scripture and explain it in the context of their church, family, and world. After all, what good is reading, if you don’t explain it?
Leaders are explainers, and explainers are leaders.
Adoption, What Edwards Preached to Kids, Reformation Day, Butcher/Baker/Biotech Maker.
Editor’s note: In honor of the upcoming Orphan Sunday, author and mother Sara Hagerty shares with us the following essay about how the language we use around adoption reflects our understanding of our adoption into the family of God.
“We prefer not to refer to our children as ‘adopted children’ as we see adoption as having been a one-time event. We just call them our children,” Hagerty said.
Deal of the Day
Tom Nettles. Living by Revealed Truth. Reviewed by Joe B. Kim. (Themelios)
“Mommy and Daddy and your siblings love you so much. But guess who loves you m-o-o-o-ost of all?” This is a question we’ve asked our children since they were tiny, prompted by the excellent children’s book by Noel Piper, “Most of All Jesus Loves You” (illustrated by the talented Debby Anderson). Our response to Christ’s love is to love him with our everything. We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).
This is what Jonathan Edwards preached to children in his congregation. In a sermon preached to children, Edwards gives many reasons “why children ought to love Jesus Christ above things in the world.”* A few of his reasons are excerpted below…
On Friday, much of the culture will be focused on candy and things that go bump in the night. Protestants, however, have something far more significant to celebrate on October 31. Friday is Reformation day, which commemorates what was perhaps the greatest move of God’s Spirit since the days of the Apostles. But what is the significance of Reformation Day, and how should we consider the events it commemorates?
Over a cup of coffee, Wendell—an entrepreneur with a PhD in biomedical engineering—told me that he was thinking about making a career change. “I don’t want to waste my life,” he said. “I want to do something that has real significance, where I can glorify God and actually love people.” He went on to ask me if I thought he should become a pastor, a missionary, or a nonprofit leader—jobs he thought really mattered in God’s economy.
1 Samuel 26:23 “The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness.”
“The first foundation of righteousness undoubtedly is the worship of God.” John Calvin
As the Logos 6 release continues to make the circuit in the Christian Blogosphere, I want to take this moment to say that I am extremely happy with this product and the new release of Logos 6. You might know that about a month ago I happily switched from Accordance to Logos. I wrote about it here.
And like I said before, the Logos 6 release is making its way around the internet. Check out these posts here:
What I Like About Logos 6
First, I appreciated the seamless transition. Like I said, I’m just getting used to the Logos product. There is nothing worse than when you just learn a product and then they overhaul it and you have to learn the whole thing again.
The Logos 6 release intuitively transitions users to new functionality. It’s not like a whole new product, yet at the same time, you get all sorts of new options in that product you’ve loved.
I’m really excited about the new Atlas features and all the additions to the Lexham study sources. These I’ve made great use of over the last month.
Check Out this What’s New video for Logos 6
Get a 15% Discount
If you don’t have Logos 6, you can get it now with a 15% discount. Use the link below to make the most of your bible study!
Pugilistic Pastors, Penal Substitution, 7 Figures, Healing Handlers of Mud.
I find it a fascinating coincidence that Fight Church, a new documentary about preachers who hold “fight clubs” at their houses of worship, was released on Netflix less than 24 hours after controversial pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill Church.
Deal of the Day
That said, I do want to engage some of the broadly theological objections against it, as well as correct popular caricatures of the doctrine along the way. I have to say that a number of the issues that people have with penal substitution are quite understandable when you consider some of the silliness that passes for biblical preaching on the subject in popular contexts. Those who affirm the doctrine as true and beautiful do our hearers no benefit when we defend misshapen, caricatured versions of the doctrine. I’ll try to do my best to avoid that in what follows.
Family structure is one of the most significant, though oft-overlooked, factors that affect the economic fortunes of Americans. A new study from AEI titled “For Richer or Poorer” documents the relationships between family patterns and economic well-being in America and shows how radically it can affect income.
It can be tempting when we speak about polarizing subjects to use mud as a weapon instead of a healing agent. To use rhetoric and lost trust to increase the divide instead of close it. But Christ is a reconciling agent and nothing is beyond his ability to change and heal.
Let us be healing handlers of mud.
Philippians 3:3 “For we are the circumcision who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”
“To worship God in spirit is to worship from the inside out.” Donald S. Whitney
The other day I got curious. Why? Because of well placed social media advertising. It has a high success rate. The reach and frequency of it plants messages necessary to arouse consumer curiosity — and all the other stuff I learned in my marketing undergrad.
Needless to say, I clicked through on a Trunk Club ad, and I learned a lot about myself. What’s Trunk Club? It’s kind of fascinating. It’s a program that pairs men with stylists who help them pick their wardrobe. Men, or wife/girlfriend, interact with a personal stylist who learns the wants and preferences of a fellow.
Guys fill out a brief survey requiring self identification. Is his current style level clueless, confident, or aficionado? What looks does he find most appealing? What brands does he gravitate to most frequently?
The stylist sends a trunk that includes a whole outfit or two or more. If you like what you receive, you keep it, and are billed for it. But you can ship back everything for free, if you wish.
This business concept got me thinking about what this program says about our values. There are a number of values in our world that Trunk Club taps into. This is the first part in a series that will explore these values.
We Value Style
“He is the dapperest dressed man in all Christendom.”
That is the tongue-in-cheek introduction I heard applied to Gregory Alan Thornbury at a recent conference. No doubt, it is an apt introduction. Only Paul David Tripp contends against Thornbury for this claim. You know this is true if you navigate the evangelical conference subculture I sojourn.
You also might recognize other finely styled Christian influencers. Dr. Anthony Bradley, another King’s College man, and Albert Mohler both come to mind. Mohler emphasizes publicly the importance of dressing professionally. These men have fine tastes in clothing and classy style.
I will not fault them for this. Please keep in mind that this is not a critique; it’s an observation. I’m not judging this value as either morally wrong or good. The dapper yuppie look is similar to the flannels, military lapels, or pearl-snap urban outfitters of the A29 ilk. This style value is a matter of contextualization.
The world values a well put together style. Certain assumptions come with this: success, productivity, and prestige are a few. It’s also been shown through studies that those who dress well perform better at work, school, and are happier people. Or at least that’s what my seminary student dean told me when we discussed the business professional dress code of my alma mater.
Trunk Club taps into this perception of style’s importance, the penchant for having a polished look. It can be casual or professional, but it’s a look. It’s intended to catch the eye and attract.
Does Scripture make observations about fashion swagger?
Scripture says that a woman’s outward adornment should be modest (1 Tim. 2:9). This is clear. But I would like to juxtapose this observation to the remarkable description about how our world responds to style in 2 Chronicles 9. When the queen of Sheba visits and talks to Solomon, she sizes him up. After listening to his wisdom, she sees how the Lord prospers him.
And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, and their clothing, his cupbearers, and their clothing, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the LORD, there was no more breath in her. And she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, half the greatness of your wisdom was not told me; you surpass the reports that I heard. (2 Chr. 9:3-6)
One metric the Queen of Sheba uses to measure Solomon’s prosperity and wisdom includes the fine garments of his servants. Solomon had the luxury to dress his servants well. Note no mention is given of Solomon’s garments; it can be assumed kings have fashion swagger.
Scripture records that fine garments elicit a response from people. They are a sign of success, prosperity, and blessing from God. This is the world in which the Queen of Sheba lives and Trunk Club knows that this value withstands the test of time. We’re not in one piece neo-prene Star Trek suits yet.
The Lord doesn’t look at outward appearances, he looks to the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). But the world sure does look at outward appearances and forms judgments based on style.
How should Christians respond to this as we engage the world? Should Christians embrace fashion swagger to be conversant with the world? Should we ascetically suppress it? How do we do this and be modest? What do you think?
Freedom as Authority, Secular Sex Ethics, Visit Their Workplace, Criticize w/out Being Mean.
David Koyzis. Freedom as Authority. (First Things)
More than half a century ago, Roman Catholic philosopher Yves René Simon observed that authority has come to have a bad reputation in the modern world. Our western societies value personal freedom so highly that any intervention by an authority outside our own wills is deemed an imposition at best and outright oppression at worst. The French Revolution of 1789, perhaps more than any other event in recent history, has implanted in western consciousness the myth of the heroic popular revolt against oppressive authority. So thoroughly did the Revolution succeed in this that the default position for many of us today is to be suspicious of authority’s claims from the outset, whatever their content.
Deal of the Day
Chris Bruno and Matt Dirks. Churches Partnering Together. Reviewed by Matthew Spandler-Davison. (TGC)
“Sexual preference is a human right.”
I read these words Sunday afternoon as CBC radio personality Jian Ghomeshi, best known as the host of Q, announced that he had been fired from theCanadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) because of his sexual preferences, and would be suing the taxpayer-funded broadcasting company for a hefty sum.
If you’re a pastor, every week congregants visit you in your workplace and watch you do your job. Part of your job is to prepare them to take what they learn from you in your workplace and carry it back to their own workplaces. Wherever they do their work—on the job or in the home—they need your support to persevere in honesty, diligence, self-control, and generosity, in the midst of terrible brokenness.
One of the most important things you can do for them is return the favor. They visit you in your workplace regularly. Why not visit them in theirs?
Matt Smethurst. How to Criticize Other Christians without Being Mean. (Christianity.com)
At various times in my Christian life I’ve been startled by the ease with which I can jump to conclusions, assume the worst, and demonize those with whom I disagree. In these moments the Lord has often reminded me, sometimes painfully, of a simple truth: don’t let your zeal for principle eclipse your love for people.
Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.”
“In every part of our worship we must present Christ to God in the arms of faith.” Thomas Watson
Kevin Vanhoozer’s Is There a Meaning in This Text? is a critical work in the study of exegesis. His key dialogue partner with whom he interacts and critiques is Jacque Derrida and his system of Deconstructionism. What I’ve enjoyed most about this book is reading about how these philosophical and theoretical systems on exegesis work and then connecting this to how I’ve seen people in real life articulate these same ideas.
The following are a series of quotes from the end of Chapter two:
Not only is Jesus the sign of the presence of God, but he is the originator of creation and salvation. Jesus’ supreme authority follows from his authorship. Moreover, the Bible virtually defines life and death, heaven and hell, in terms of God’s presence and absence. The story of salvation is the story of how humanity regains the presence of God through God’s gracious gift of Christ.
Either Christ is the “home” or locus of God’s presence, truth, light, and the fullness of being and grace, or he is not. Jesus himself certainly appeared to have a logocentric understanding: “I am the light of the world”; “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 8:12; 14:6). Christology here appears wholly logos-centric: Jesus Christ is the source and center, not only of meaning and truth, but of joy, freedom, and abundant life as well.
There is some warrant, therefore, in calling Christianity logocentric. Against Derrida, however, this emphasis on God’s presence in Christ does not lead to a diminished regard for the written word. That divine revelation is mediated through Word and Spirit — that is, through Scripture read in faith — was a constant theme of the Reformers, for instance. And, precisely because the written word is accompanied by the Spirit, the Christian need not choose between logocentrism and writing (as defined by Derrida). On the contrary, the authenticity of the written text is guaranteed by a “real presence.” In the Christian tradition, then, written words may mediate personal presence, just as Christ mediates the presence of God.
This review first appeared at Lifeway’s Pastors Today web blog.
John Piper. Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Books, 2013. 320 pp. $14.99
Church and Ministry
Brothers, We Are Not Professionals is the culmination of ministry lessons learned by one of the most respected pastoral leaders in the 20th-21st century, John Piper. Piper shares thirty-six lessons that cover subjects such as ministry philosophy, theology, purpose, function, and the study habits of a pastor. Each chapter offers pastors piercing insights from Piper’s thirty years of ministry at Bethlehem Baptist Church. You will find summations of his many other works imbedded in these poignant chapters.
This edition of Brothers, We Are Not Professionals is recently updated and expanded, including six new chapters: 4, God Does Make Much of Us; 6, God is the Gospel; 13, Be Bible-Oriented – Not Entertainment-Oriented – Preachers; 18, Pursue the Tone of the Text; 22, Help Them Act the Miracle; and 27, Bodily Training is of Some Value.
Rather than focusing on business, technology, systems and processes – as many pastoral handbooks do these days – Brothers, We Are Not Professionals makes its ballast heart matters. Piper kicks off the book with these words from chapter one, “We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry” (1). This concern of Piper’s, that the church is becoming increasingly professional and decreasingly inspectional on heart matters, is a driving force behind each of the book’s talking points. After all, the pastor who has a healthy heart, filled with affections for Christ, will shepherd the church well.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
I cannot think of a better book for a pastor to walk through in order to warm his heart to Christ and the Church. Young pastors need to read this book and reread it; veteran pastors should keep returning to this book.
Reading Brothers, We Are Not Professionals is like sitting with Piper and drawing from the well of wisdom he would offer in an hour long conversation, while also heeding the prophetical warnings concerning temptations that will assuredly seek a pastor.
Brother, We Are Not Professionals caused me to reflect on subjects I otherwise would not have considered. Many of Piper’s exhortations were novel considerations for me. He encouraged me to read biography (Chapter 16), pursue the tone of the text (Chapter 18), and bodily train myself (Chapter 27).
Other concepts I knew to be functions of the pastorate took on deeper meanings. An instance of this is the chapter on Magnifying the Meaning of Baptism (Chapter 23). This chapter arrested my attention and reinforced a fierce conviction to defend a credo-baptistic view.
Furthermore, Piper helped me think through matters of ethics like abortion (Chapter 33), racism (Chapter 32) and how to handle calamitous events like 9/11, Columbine, or hurricane Katrina (Chapter 30).
Above all, this book prompted me to be passionate and serious in all areas of life. Piper writes – echoing Spurgeon’s exhortation to earnestness in Lectures to My Students: “Brothers, we must let the river run deep. This is a plea for passion in the pulpit, passion in prayer, passion in conversation” (172).
Brothers, We Are Not Professionals is a library essential. I know I already said this, but it is worth restating: buy this book; read it; read it again every few years. If a young pastor asked me: “What should be my first read on the pastorate as a pastor?” I would suggest this one. This book will help some through a spiritual desert and rescue others from a dangerous or deadly path towards destruction.
Will you, pastor, carve out time to enrich and enliven your soul rather than look for the next fix to your most recent ministry problem or the next silver bullet trick to enter mega-church land? Listen to this fitting point from Piper:
For you own soul and for the life of your church, fight for time to feed your soul with rich reading…If you want to stay alive to what is great and glorious and beautiful and eternal, you will have to fight for time to look through the eyes of others who were in touch with God. (80)
Essential Recommended Helpful Pass It By
If Scripture is a map and prayer a compass pointing to God, then Brothers, We Are Not Professionals is a travel guide worth consulting.